Shailender Bhatia, MD
I first became interested in hematology-oncology during my internal medicine residency, when I met a cancer patient with compromised immune system whose immune cells were eating up (phagocytosis) their own blood cells. The microscopic images of blood cells being swallowed by immune cells got me thinking about the marvels of our immune system, and have shaped my career path. I immediately became interested in harnessing the power of our immune system towards eliminating cancer and hence, sought a fellowship at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/University of Washington School of Medicine, the epicenter of immunotherapy. I subsequently chose to pursue this interest in skin cancers that were considered exceedingly challenging to treat at that point, but are now at the forefront of the cancer immunotherapy revolution. One of the aspects of my practice that I enjoy the most is bringing cutting-edge clinical trials to our patients, which can offer hope when standard therapies aren’t effective enough.
Dealing with a cancer diagnosis is challenging at so many levels. Our team strives hard through thoughtful, strategic treatment planning and shared decision-making to ensure that our patients feel confident in their recommended treatment path. We discuss the specific and realistic goals for each patient’s unique situation, ranging from cure to prolongation of life, while improving/preserving their quality-of-life as much as possible. We use all the tools at our disposal, including standard therapies and clinical trials, to give our patients the best chance at long-term success. I believe that it truly takes a village to deliver optimal care to our patients, and at SCCA, patients have that village — compassionate professionals at all levels, who have committed themselves to easing the burden of cancer on the lives of our patients and their caregivers as much as possible.
Specialty: Medical Oncology
I am a medical oncologist who specializes in the care of patients with advanced skin cancers that generally require systemic surveillance and therapy. I am committed to developing clinical trials that focus on improving outcomes for patients with skin cancers, especially melanoma (including ocular melanoma, a rare form of cancer that affects pigment cells in the eye), Merkel cell carcinoma and other non-melanoma skin cancers. I am interested in novel therapies that stimulate the immune system to fight cancer and in targeted therapies that spare patients unnecessary side effects.
My research interests also include intra-tumoral immunotherapy, a form of treatment where cancer medications are injected directly into a tumor to improve treatment responses while reducing systemic toxicity. With the continual improvement in our patients survival, I am also committed to reducing the financial and logistical impacts of cancer treatment by optimizing the dose and frequency of immunotherapy drugs and reducing wasteful healthcare expenses.
We make promising new treatments available to you through studies called clinical trials led by SCCA doctors. Many of these trials at SCCA have led to FDA-approved treatments and have improved standards of care globally. Together, you and your doctor can decide if a study is right for you.
Many of our SCCA physicians conduct ongoing research to improve standards of patient care. Their work is evaluated by other physicians and selected for publication to the United States National Library of Medicine, the largest medical library in the world. See scientific papers this SCCA provider has written.
SCCA providers are often asked to give their medical expertise for press and news publications. Read articles by or about this SCCA provider.
SCCA's Shailender Bhatia, MD, discussed the potential successful use of immunotherapy in the treatment of nonmelanoma skin cancers.
SCCA's Shailender Bhatia, MD, spoke with Targeted Oncology about five important studies shaping the future of melanoma treatment.
Your care team
SCCA accepts most national private health insurance plans as well as Medicare. We also accept Medicaid for people from Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. We are working to ensure that everyone, no matter what their financial situation, has access to the care they need.